Last week I visited my brother-in-law’s wedding and the succeeding wedding party. I decided to capture the vibrance of the event by using a slow shutter speed and a modest flash.

The venue that hosted the wedding party, was pretty dark. Not using a flash was not an option and using a standard flash would have blown away all the ambiance and movement. So I opted for a slow shutter speed. This would catch all the colorful disco lights and the movement of my subjects. To avoid completely blurry photos, I used a modest flash to freeze my subjects in time.

  Bride dancing the polonaise (a conga line) ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/4-second exposure  Bride dancing the polonaise (a conga line) ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/4-second exposure

As you can see in the photo above, I chose a shutter speed of one-fourth of a second. This caught the red, green, purple and blue disco lights and some movement by the subjects. The flash fires in a split second. No matter how long you set your exposure time, the flash will freeze your subjects. Combining a slow shutter speed with flash can create very nice effects.

  Bride and groom dancing at their wedding party. ISO 250, f/4.5, 1-second exposure  Bride and groom dancing at their wedding party. ISO 250, f/4.5, 1-second exposure

In this photo, you can see more movement. That’s because I upped the exposure time to one second. The flash helps to freeze the subjects, but you can still see movement caused by motion blur.

  Bride dancing ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/2-second exposure  Bride dancing ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/2-second exposure

Here you see the bride illuminated by the moving red and blue lights. If I would have opted for a fast shutter speed, only a fraction of the party lights would have hit the camera sensor. This would have resulted in a very dull photo.

  Dancing in the Dark ISO 6.400, f/4.5, 1/250-second exposure  Dancing in the Dark ISO 6.400, f/4.5, 1/250-second exposure

This last photo illustrates what would happen, if I wouldn’t have used a flash. I would have had to raise my ISO a lot. Which I try to avoid, because my camera doesn’t handle high ISO’s very well. Apart from that, I would have had to use a high shutter speed. This would result is a very dark and noisy photo. I still kind of like this photo though.

Have you yourself used flash combined with a slow shutter speed, or is this not your cup of tea? I’d like to hear what you think in the comments below!

Update: comment section removed